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Facts, Not Fiction, About the Common Core State Standards

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August 22, 2013 04:58 pm


The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by forty-six states and the District of Columbia. But two-thirds of the public is unaware of this initiative, according to a PDK/Gallup surveyreleased this week. And critics of the standards have disseminated some misimpressions about them.

First, the facts. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are just that –state standards. They are not a federal takeover of education. States came together to develop the standards, and states adopted them on their own. State officials recognized that the standards were superior to their own standards, and that by working together they could improve student achievement more quickly than any one state could on its own.

These are standards, not curriculum. Standards spell out what students should know at each grade level; curriculum is how to get there. Schools have many options to help students reach the standards, and the Common Core State Standards have opened numerous options for innovation.

The CCSS call for substantial changes in classroom practice in many cases. They ask students to understand appropriately complex texts. They ask for students to use evidence justify claims in reading and writing, They require students to explain how they arrived at mathematical solutions. Few students have demonstrated these abilities, which are why early tests based on the Common Core State Standards, administered in Kentucky in 2012 and in New York State in 2013, show that students appear to be at lower levels of proficiency than in past years, under old standards.

These test results suggest that schools have a long way to go to change instruction to enable students to meet the Common Core State Standards. A first step is to get the facts straight.

Get the facts in the Alliance’s newest report, The Common Core State Standards 101

Bob Rothman is a senior fellow at the Alliance for Excellent Education. 


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